Last year the Thunder came close, but lost out in an epic series with Miami Heat in the NBA Championship Finals. What lies ahead?
Oklahoma City Thunder
Placing last season: 47-19 (2nd in Western Conference, Playoffs: Finals runners-up)
Key moves: Having established themselves as one of the premier teams in the NBA last season, falling short at the final hurdle, the Thunder have done very little in the offseason, happy that their young core can repeat, if not better, their performances last year.
They signed Hasheem Thabeet in free agency, just three years after he was drafted with the second pick of the draft by the Memphis Grizzlies.
Challenges ahead: The Thunder have only one step to take – be NBA champions. Whether they can keep the nucleus of Durant, Westbrook and Harden together is the real question.
Harden’s contract is due for to expire and he will be expecting a significant pay rise but the Thunder are already over the cap and whether they can offer him a satisfactory deal remains a big question mark.
Reasons to be positive: Having Durant, Westbrook and Harden one year older, more experienced and fresh off a finals appearance should do wonders for them, just look at how Lebron James bounced back from losing to the Mavericks in 2011.
They are an extremely young team who is still developing and should get better going forward.
Prediction: 62-20 (1st in Western Conference)
image: © Keith Allison